The Rivers State Government and the management of Ethiopian Airlines have reached an agreement, in principle, for the operation of permanent international flights from the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, subject to the approval of the relevant federal authorities.
The two parties reached the agreement at the Headquarters of Ethiopian Airlines after a high-powered meeting between officials of the state government led by Governor Nyesom Wike; and the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Dr Tewolde Gebremariam, the Chief Commercial Officer, Esayas Wolde Mariam, Vice President, Strategic Planning, Busera Awel, Managing Director, Sales International, Lemma Yadecha, Regional Director, Sales and Services, Western Africa, Mitiku Asrat and Manager, Group Alliance and Commercial Cooperation, Hewoel Lemma.
In an address, Chief Commercial Officer, Esayas Wolde Mariam, explained that Ethiopian Airlines has agreed to fly permanently from Port Harcourt International Airport, subject to the approval of the Federal Government.
Mariam said: “We are willing and capable to fly into Port Harcourt on a regular basis. For now, we have exhausted our Bilateral Air Agreement Approval, and we need another approval to operate the Port Harcourt route.
“We need your help to ensure that approval comes from the federal authorities. At first, there should be a temporary operating permit, pending the final approval”, he said.
The chief commercial officer added that Ethiopian Airlines needs the initial support of the Rivers State Government for handling and aviation infrastructure in Port Harcourt to develop the new market.
He noted that Ethiopian Airlines would also embark on advertisements to promote Port Harcourt as a tourist and investment destination.
Also speaking, the Vice President, Strategic Planning, Busera Awel made a presentation on the capacity and vision of the airline for the continent.
In his response, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike emphasised that the state government was willing to provide an enabling environment for Ethiopian Airlines to operate in the state, and assured that he would meet with the Minister of Aviation, Sen Hadi Sirika, to ensure that Port Harcourt International Airport was approved for Ethiopian Airlines as a destination.
Wike further said that his administration was working on making Port Harcourt a regional air transport hub for greater economic development of the state.
He said: “As we, therefore, consolidate on our achievements, we want to also focus on making Port Harcourt City a regional air transport hub through the private public partnership (PPP) approach while leveraging on the existing aviation infrastructure and related market and other advantages of the state.
“I wish to assure you that we are ready to do everything within our powers and spheres of authority and influence to facilitate the realization of your interest and desire to directly and sustainably fly from Port Harcourt to Addis Ababa and other parts of the world”, the governor stated.
Wike thanked officials of Ethiopian Airlines for their interest in expanding and retaining their services in Port Harcourt City, adding that the Rivers State Government would offer its social partnership, goodwill and support.
The governor noted that Port Harcourt was strategically located to serve as a transit point for the entire South-South and parts of the South-East, pointing out that, “We have agreed in principle that there is need for Ethiopian Airlines to fly from Port Harcourt to other destinations. Port Harcourt is a destination of choice, as it is easily accessible for the entire South-South and other states in the South-East”.
Wike was accompanied by former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Austin Opara, Rivers State PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah, Director General of Rivers State Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr Thompson Emmanuel, former House of Assembly member, Hon Felix Nwaeke, former Eleme Local Government Area Chairman, Chief Ejor N. Ejor, and President of Port Harcourt Investors and Entrepreneurs’ Forum, Ibifiri Bob-Manuel.
State Of The Nation: PDP Takes Protest To Foreign Embassies …Insists Buhari, APC Threat To Democracy
For the second time in the past three weeks, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, took its protest to the embassies of the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and France, condemning among other things, what it termed, threat to democracy by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The protest, which took off from the party’s National Presidential Campaign Headquarters, Maitama, Abuja, attracted key members of the National Working Committee (NWC), led by National Secretary of the party, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri.
At the European Union Embassy, Tsauri, who stood in for the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, flayed the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government for allegedly constituting itself a clog in the wheel of the nation’s electoral progress since it first assumed office in 2015.
In a petition submitted by its leadership, yesterday, the party urged the international community to press on the government of President Buhari to preserve democratic institutions in the land at all cost even as they reminded them that most of their reports on election observations in the country recently showed in decline in the preservation of democratic ethos.
Addressing newsmen after the submission of the petition at the European Union, Deputy National Chairman (North) of the party, Senator Suleiman Nazif, expressed the party’s dissatisfaction at what he called the takeover of the Judiciary and the judicial arms of government by the APC-led government.
He said, “We are not happy, we are not satisfied with the way democracy is being run in Nigeria. We have come here to complain because we have realized that the National Assembly is being intimidated by the Executive.
“The Judiciary is being arm-twisted, the rule of law has become a mockery and we thought it wise to come and lay our complaint because they no longer listen to anybody and that is why the PDP decided to reach out to the international community to lay complaint with respect to the electoral act that has not been accented to up till now.
“You are aware of the systematic collapse in our electoral processes, the way elections are being conducted. In Kogi, we saw what transpired in the last election. Nigerians have seen for themselves what the opposition party is going through.
“We saw what happened in Bayelsa, we saw what happened in Imo with respect to the Supreme Court judgement and we are calling for a review of that judgement and we believe that with the amount of pressure from intentional organisations, I think the right thing would be done”.
On his part, Tsauri said, “Democracy is being derailed in this country. Democracy in Nigeria has been built on five pillars: the media, the electoral empire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agents, the Judiciary, and the international community. These are the pillars that support democracy in Nigeria. If one of these pillars collapses, democracy will derail on that side.
“Out of the five, only two are left. The electoral umpire is compromised, you all know it. Security agents are part and parcel of APC government. Judiciary is being threatened and nobody has any confidence in the Judiciary again.
“The only one that is now left is the media and the international community. The international community, any where there is going to election, they go and monitor. They bring in their reports and most of these reports are negative.
“This is why we came to the international community to tell them that this is the expectations of Nigerians from them and we want them to do exactly what is expected of them to do.
“In Nigeria today, if you talk about security, it is zero. When Buhari came into government, he said that he was going to fight corruption, he was going to intensify effort on the economy and then security but none is working now. This government does not listen to any voice except the international community. That is why we are here”.
However, the officials of the three embassies failed to make statements after receiving the part’s petition.
Also, in the protest march were the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, National Woman Leader, Hajia Maryam Waziri and the National Youth Leader, Hon. Stanley Udeh-Okoye, amongst others.
RSG Begins E-Registration Of Businesses …As Nsirim Heads C’ttee On Investment Promotion
The Rivers State Ease of Doing Business Council headed by the State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has taken far reaching decisions to give impetus to the mandate given to the council by the State Chief Executive, Chief Nyesom Wike.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said that with effect from yesterday, an e-Registration Platform for all businesses in Rivers State has been put in place to ensure that all businesses in the state come under one database.
According to him, a help desk has also been established in the office of the deputy governor in line with the decision.
He further disclosed that the Ease of Doing Business Council also set up an Investment Promotion Committee headed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim.
Other members of the committee include, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Nwankpa, Chairman, House Committee on Commerce and Industry, Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Ezu Chibudhom, and President, Nigerian Entrepreneur and Investment Forum, Engr. Dozie Abajue.
2021 AFCON: NFF Moves S’Eagles’ Games From Benin
After several weeks of speculations, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), May have shelved the idea of playing Super Eagles first international match of the year at the refurbished Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, Edo State.
The refurbished stadium with a sitting capacity of 19,500 stands as one of the best in the country today and is equipped with modern facilities.
The venue was due to be formally opened with the Super Eagles’ Day-four match of the ongoing AFCON 2021 qualifying round clash with Sierra Leone on the 22nd of March, 2020.
However, it has been confirmed from a top official of the Glass House in Abuja that the ancient city of Benin which last staged Super Eagles match in 2011 against Boswana which ended goalless with Late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi in charge of his first match as gaffer, may have to wait for another time.
“We have a strong bond with Edo State Government and this explained why we’ve had many events in Benin lately but due to some reasons, this important match against Sierra Leone will not hold in the new stadium,” the top official told our source in a telephone chat last night.
With Benin no longer in sight, the NFF is looking in the direction of either the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State or Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Both stadiums hosted Super Eagles’ matches in the past. Uyo Stadium in particular was were Eagles secured their qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia
The Asaba ground became new home to the Super Eagles lately following the massive support the team enjoy from Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa.
Delta bankrolled the sent forth match for the Super Eagles to the last AFCON tournament in Egypt where they claimed the bronze medal.
Although no clear reason was given for why NFF decided to move the Sierra Leone game from the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, our checks revealed that it may have something to do with the forth coming National Sports Festival (NSF) which the state will host next month to early April.
Physical infrastructure needed for the games are being completed at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium with base for the track being laid, as the football pitch is ready. Work at the tennis section is completed, while the swimming pools are being furnished.
Organisers of the festival have scheduled the football events at other designated venues leaving the edify to stage only track and field events, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.
With the Uyo and Asaba as options for Eagles, NFF has at least two weeks to communicate the new venue to CAF as well as the visiting team in accordance with the tournament rules and regulations
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